Fashion: The utility of it all

The utility or uniform look has been a favourite since Katharine Hamnett sent out combat pants made of parachute silk in the mid-Eighties, although it is a look that goes back to the austere Forties. Today's look is still austere, but in a different way. Each season it gets stripped of more details until there are almost none left - epaulettes are a definite no no. But paradoxically, it has also got more feminine. When you don't have to make a statement with hideous regimental buttons you are freer to add personal touches. These shoes from Freelance would have looked so wrong with the uniform look of yore but fit perfectly with a pair of khakis now. The finishing touch is those holster bags that are so in, even though I've yet to see one on a real person and I'm already heartily sick of them. Still, you know that really big bags are going to be in next season...

Photographs by

Neil Massey.

Styled by Zoe Brown.

Photographer assisted by Toby.

Stylist assisted by Natasha Hayman.

Make-up by Sharon Willmore using Clinique.

Hair by Allison McKay for Stage Door 0171 233 1460.

Modelled by Hanne Klintoe.

Clockwise from main picture, left:

Brown cotton drawstring jacket (sizes s-l), pounds 219, and beige cotton skirt (sizes s-l), pounds 89, both by Joseph, 26 Sloane St, London SW1. 81 King St, Manchester. (Tel: 0171 590 6200)

Stone fitted waistcoat with velcro fastening (sizes 8-14), pounds 110, and matching cropped trousers (sizes 8-14), pounds 80, both cK Calvin Klein, 55 New Bond St, London W1 and from Carters 43 Howard St, Belfast. (Tel: 0171 491 9696). Khaki ribbed long sleeve T-shirt (sizes s-l), pounds 39, Joseph, 26 Sloane St, London SW1. 81 King St, Manchester. (Tel: 0171 590 6200). Beige (Boston) suede sandals (sizes 35-48), pounds 64.95, Birkenstocks, 37 Neal St, London WC2. (Tel: 0800 132 194).

White cotton shirt (sizes 6-16), pounds 99, Nicole Farhi, 158 New Bond St, London W1. Harvey Nichols, 107-111 Briggate, Leeds. (Tel: 0171 499 8368). Beige trousers (sizes 26-36), pounds 50, customised khakis for women from Dockers, Unit 8, North Piazza, Covent Garden, London W1. Selfridges, The Trafford Centre, Trafford Park, Manchester. (Tel: 0171 394 3300). White leather pouch, pounds 45, Sally Gissing, Harvey Nichols London SW3. Harvey Nichols, 107-111 Briggate, Leeds. (Tel: 0171 267 9303).

Opposite page, top and bottom

Navy Aertex long sleeve top (Sizes s-l), pounds 55, Elspeth Gibson, 7 Pont St, London SW1. 52 Thistle St, Edinburgh. (Tel: 0171 235 0601). Pale blue chambray skirt (sizes 8-12), pounds 159, Blaak, available from Browns Focus, 38-39 South Molton St, London W1. (Tel: 0171 629 0666). White cotton holster, pounds 180, Etro, 14 Old Bond St, London W1. (Tel: 0171 495 5767). White flat mules (sizes 35-41), pounds 129, Freelance, 253 Kings Road, London SW3. (Tel: 0171 351 4038).

Pale grey denim jacket (sizes 10-12), pounds 260, Blaak, from Browns Focus, 38-39 South Molton St, London W1. (Tel: 0171 629 0666). Grey silk skirt with organza trim (sizes 1-3), pounds 48, and black crossover body bag, pounds 38, both from Jigsaw, 126-127 New Bond St, London W1. 39-43 King Street, Manchester. (Tel: 0171 491 4484). Black flat mules (sizes 35-41), pounds 129, Freelance, 253 Kings Road, London SW3. (Tel: 0171 351 4038).

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